3 lessons I learned from the 2020 major winners about playing good golf

2020 has been a tumultuous year, and it was just as crazy on the PGA TOUR. Multiple tournaments canceled, and three Major Championships in the Fall portion of the wraparound schedule, including The Masters in November. My head is still spinning .

I am (finally) enjoying a little downtime at home and reflecting on the recent season on the PGA TOUR. 

Reliving the countless events we covered it is again impressed upon me how good the PGA TOUR players are.  There are a number of incredible shots that stand out; shots that, as an announcer, I got to witness firsthand and describe on the air.  

The teacher in me also saw a number of lessons that the club golfer can learn from the game’s best.  (I am putting together an “On the Mark” podcast highlighting those.)  

Getting back to the whirlwind three Majors in short succession, I thought I would share lessons that you can learn from those three memorable events.

PGA Championship

Collin Morikawa was one of the shining stars in the PGA TOUR’s return to competition. Two wins (including a major) and a Runner-Up would make for a decent career for many, but the young Californian achieved that in a few months.

Many will remember The PGA and point to Morikawa’s tee-shot to the 16th green in the final round — a shot I got to see with first-hand — but what I admired the most was his mature approach to development and progress.

collin morikawa swings
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Alongside his coach, Rick Sessinghaus, Collin is very disciplined about his approach to his game.  He works hard on taking ownership of everything he does, and any recommendation his coach makes undergoes a period of self-discovery where Collin works on it, tests it, understands and implements the change.  In short his coach recommends a change and Collin searches it thoroughly as he works on it. This, in my opinion, is why his method is so reliable under pressure.  

Collin also focuses implicitly on his tendencies and continually reinforces fundamentals that work — indeed that was his focus at The PGA.  Learn from Collin and check your fundamentals periodically.

The Lesson: Make changes to your golf swing slowly but thoroughly, and never forget the things that work for you.

U.S. Open

Much was made about how Bryson DeChambeau bludgeoned his was to success around Winged Foot.  His incredible power aside, I was impressed (throughout the summer) at his accuracy at those elevated swing speeds.

For various reasons most golfers will never be able to garner those incredible increases in speed, but everyone can learn from Bryson’s desire, goal-setting, sacrifice and singular focus.  He set a goal, tuned out the naysayers, worked harder than arguably everybody, and was rewarded with the grandest of prizes.  There is a lesson in that.

What you can also learn is DeChambeau’s approach to distance control with his irons. He essentially has a “clock system” for his backswing lengths which he uses as a controller for the distances he hits each club.  He measures the distance his hands travel in the backswing in relation to a clock-face (ie., 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, etc.), and he has, through repetition, dialed in the distances he is able to hit each club with each length of backswing.  

The Lesson: While I highly recommend this clock system approach, I would not necessarily advocate that you go into it so extensively. And regardless: Distance control is key to improving your proximity and playing better golf.

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The Masters

A banner second half of the year, capped by a virtuoso win in Augusta, Georgia, galvanized Dustin Johnson’s spot atop the world rankings.  

He was unbeatable in the Fall Masters and it was a joy to behold.  In fact the Sunday “2-Finger” 8-iron he hit into the heart of the par-3 12th green was one of my memorable shots of the year. 

When asked about Dustin Johnson’s performance I readily turned to my impression that DJ has always “out-hit” his competition and when he was on few could compete with him.  

Now I feel like he has learned to “out-wit” the competition too and this is making him a Tour de Force.  He has achieved this by focusing on, and sharpening his skills on and around the greens.

Pure devotion, repetition and practice can help any sub-standard short-game, and I recommend it if you want to turn your bad days to good, and your good days to great.

Finally, DJ also not only has long drives, he has a very short memory and the combination of those two make for a winning recipe.  I’ve long maintained that “long drives and a short memory are key to consistent success.”

I will never forget the time, when asked why he doesn’t get flustered by bad shots, DJ answered “I try not to get too emotional, whether it’s going really well or going really bad, I always try to stay even keel.”

The lesson: DJ has the mind of a hall-of-famer because of he doesn’t dwell on the bad shots. He forgets them quickly, and then moves onto the next one.

Golf.com Contributor

On-course announcer and analyst Mark Immelman is passionate about the game of golf. As a decorated instructor, award-winning NCAA college golf coach, and an accomplished golfer, Mark brings a robust knowledge and vast experience to his role as a television broadcaster and golf instructor. He is currently a Golf Analyst for CBS Sports HQ, and an Analyst and On-course Announcer for CBS Sports and Golf on CBS. He currently also serves as a Studio Analyst and an On-course Announcer for PGA TOUR Live  for PGA TOUR Live.

The older brother to 2008 Masters Champion, Trevor Immelman, Mark grew up in Somerset West, South Africa. After a successful amateur career in South Africa he was offered a golf scholarship to Columbus State University (Columbus , GA). He enjoyed a prolific collegiate tenure highlighted by his four-time All-America selections, two-time Academic All-America awards, and two NCAA Div. II National Championship victories. After graduation, Mark had a short season as a playing professional, but quickly turned his attention to his true passion – golf teaching.

As a golf instructor, Mark believes in cultivating ability and talent by providing comprehensive, holistic golf instruction that is easily understandable and of the highest quality to golfers of all abilities and skill levels. His passionate approach and keen knowledge of the game have led to him being a sought-after mind by leading Professional and Amateur golfers alike. Through his career he has taught and/or consulted to PGA TOUR and European Tour professionals and tournament winners such as: Larry Mize, Loren Roberts, Trevor Immelman, Scott Brown, Patton Kizzire, Louis Oosthuizen and Will Wilcox. He has been recognized as one of “Golf Digest’s Top 20 Instructors Under 40”, Golf Digest’s “Best Teachers in the State of Georgia” and Georgia Trend Magazine’s “Top 40 Under 40 – Georgia’s Best and Brightest”.

As a NCAA College Coach at Columbus State University (since 2001) Mark continues to coach the Columbus State Men’s Golf Team and his program is a perennial contender for Conference and National Titles. He is a two-time NCAA Div. II Atlantic/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, two-time Peachbelt Conference Coach of the Year, and the 2009 NCAA Div. II National Coach of the Year.

In 2019 Mark was selected as Captain and Coach of the (Arnold) Palmer Cup International Team. His team triumphed over the United States Team in the Palmer Cup Matches held at The Alotian Club outside of Little Rock, AR.

Mark’s additional broadcast duties include being a guest analyst on the CBS Sports “First Cut Podcast”. CBS Sports also uses Mark’s unique voice for audio and promotional PGA TOUR advertisements and promotional reads.

He has also served a 6-year tenure as a Play-by-Play Announcer for Sirius/XM PGA TOUR Radio.

Additionally, Mark hosts “On the Mark”, a PGA TOUR Podcast, which to date has been downloaded more than 3 million times in more than 125 countries.

He has also written golf instructional columns and articles for Golf Digest SA, Golf Digest USA and is currently penning instructional pieces for Golf Magazine. As an author, Mark has published two e-Books on golf instruction: “Scandalously SImple – The Easy Way to Accurate Golf Shots” and “Golf is a Game of Recovery”.

You can learn more about at MarkImmelman.com